Oh, this is awful. I’ve nothing to offer but happy memories: Item: Peter and I, both greying, scruffy, and geeky, walking down some random street, and the hooker, young and with movie-star make-up, murmured “Oh, pretty men”—we snickered for the next two blocks. Item: Round midnight, some club way off Bourbon street, warm in midwinter, Charmaine Neville and Maria Muldaur traded off verses of Santa Baby, outrageously lewd and intensely musical. Item: At some conference party I danced and danced with a woman I’d never met, we had fun, she lit up the dancefloor with a fast shake during the saxophone break, then we talked about stylesheets. Item: Somewhere in the quarter, two cops had this guy backed into a corner and were giving him a hard time, I was thinking “That’s gotta be a crappy job, a cop in the number-one place in the U.S.A. where people go to get drunk and stupid” but then they walked away laughing, side by side. Item: Somewhere else in the quarter, under twinkly lights in a lovely old courtyard, espressos and cognac after a lot of really good food, a block-away electric backbeat drifting faintly over the walls. Hey New Orleans: when you get yourself back together, I’ll come down and spend a bunch of money on booze and music, that’s a promise.